As I sit in my chair in my new house enjoying the view of the sky and our back yard, I’ve decided it’s time I share my decision about retiring from bike racing. It was a decision made in July at USA Mountain Bike Nationals in Mammoth Lakes, California. I had a great weekend of racing there where I won two bronze medals, one in the 65+ cross country, and one in the 60+ Enduro. My preparation was good until a week before we moved. I still had a couple of great races and at some point during the cross country race, which was first, I decided that the Enduro would be my last race. It came to me that after 50 years of racing, and over 30 years of racing mountain bikes, I really had no more goals to reach. I have been a national champion, I was a pioneer and was on the podium twice at the inaugural Mountain Bike Worlds, I have raced endurance events and I even did quite well in cyclocross. My road career, well let’s just say it gave me a good start.
I’m not retiring from cycling, I’m not even stopping my weekly training regime. I’m sticking with my weights, intervals and medium-long rides. I am still going to try and improve my skills, though with caution.
There is no regret for me having raced for 50 years. The number of friends I have made, the challenges I have faced, the learning about training, the places I have seen and ridden. The pluses outweigh the minuses by a huge factor. And yes I will miss it.
Why then retire when so many masters continue to race into their 80s and 90s and even 100s? Health is one reason. I have never thought racing is good for ones health, in fact I believe the opposite. Being active, yes, but racing I feel puts the body through too much stress. I want less stress. Achievement? Well, in mountain biking older people can’t start this sport and be competitive easily. My guess is if I continue to race at nationals the same top racers will show up until they become injured, ill, or deceased. I guess this a bit morbid but I feel I have tested myself against the best and I don’t want to just keep repeating it. Injury? Racing is about pushing oneself to the limit, both up and down. It’s time I reined that in a bit. I take pride in my skills, but always pushing to go faster doesn’t seem prudent any more. As I said before I’ve won about all I can win and I just don’t feel the drive to continue.
Motivation is why I think many people race. But it’s not the reason I raced. I raced because I was good and I was fit. I never entered a race unprepared. I was never one of those people who say on the starting line ” I’m out of shape, I haven’t been training”. I started every race in shape, hoping to win, knowing I would be fit enough to have my best race. I love being outside, I love riding my bike. I even like (not love) doing intervals on my trainer. I simply don’t need events to motivate me.
This racing retirement is similar to my Sunnyside Sports participation. I sold Sunnyside Sports I did not quit working. I have stopped racing but I have not stopped being in shape and riding. I went to Switzerland this summer to ride, I don’t know what adventures are in store for me, I do know there will be many more.